I don’t know if it shows, but this blog has been on a diet. The last three posts contained not one mention of food or beverage. Naturally, this diet resulted in no weight loss whatsoever. Instead, it stirred up a peculiarly strong hankering for fried chicken.
But it’s Thanksgiving, so let’s talk about a different bird: turkey.
Every year around this time, my thoughts inevitably drift to my mother and her cooking. Ruth Martin firmly believed it wasn’t possible to overcook a turkey. She would wrap it in foil, slap some butter on it, and cook it overnight. As in: all night long.
When my father would attempt to carve the bird the next day, the turkey meat would transmogrify into turkey dust. As I stared at the turkey dust pile on my plate, I would always whisper under my breath what I was truly thankful for in that moment.
How could I have consumed turkey dust without gravy as a vessel for transporting it down my throat? Of course, the Cold Duck helped wash it down, too. (Does anyone still drink Cold Duck? And if so, have they been held for questioning?)
You may think I’m exaggerating about my mother’s culinary skills. I am not. My mother is not now and never has been a good cook. With all the Mrs. Butterworth bottles, potato mashers, pie birds, and Aunt Jemima recipe boxes to collect, she was more interested in accumulating the outdated artifacts of cooking than in the actual act of cooking itself.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most mothers can cook and do it well. My mother had spirit, character, eccentricity, a passion for collecting, a love of her husband and children, and in her later years, a talent for painting. She still loves her family and possesses spirit and character, though Alzheimer’s, or whatever form of dementia she has, is slowly dimming the rest.
And so, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my mother--and for all mothers. Your children will never fully know the sacrifices you made for them, the pain you tried to protect them from, the opportunities you worked hard to give them. So what if you overcook the turkey? There will always be gravy.